October 2, 2017 by The Citron Review
By Allison Kade
When we were younger, we were bullied. Now, as an adult, we talk about our experience all the time. A glib chuckle: We were chubby and awkward, raised our hand too often in class, never shut up. Laughing about it now shows that we are over it.
In second grade they started a club with one membership requirement: anyone but us. Their club had a secret language—anyone but us—but they were stupid. We learned their language, and they hated us more.
We played Monopoly at a girl’s house because her mother forced her. We didn’t know we were a chore, and our unknowing made her laugh.
Another girl sent us an email with the F-word and we were awed by the bravery of her language. We presented it to our parents, who showed the principal. This did not make any of them like us.
At sleepaway camp, they dropped daddy-long-legs in an envelope addressed to us and licked it closed. We have never liked spiders. The problem was us, not them.
We lost weight in high school. We went to public school in order to leave those kids behind. Puberty wasn’t great, but we found more people like us. We dated a tall, popular boy.
Our college friends never met those kids from our childhood. We stayed up late talking about the Iliad and the Aeneid, and we disagreed about whether we preferred Achilles or Aeneas, but we loved each other and they weren’t there. We left them behind.
We are excellent at office politics. Our experience taught us to identify the queen, to make self-deprecating jokes to win people. They taught us never to trust our coworkers because they will backstab us. Lucy was usurped while she was on maternity leave. That will not happen to us. Thank you.
Senior year of high school, we traveled to Poland with kids from our synagogue, from elementary school. We hadn’t seen them in years, but we were different now, we had friends, we had a tall boyfriend. We were ready to laugh about the past, but, strolling under the boxed guard towers of Majdanek, they asked about our SAT scores. They said we must still be nerds. Our tall boyfriend wasn’t on this trip.
When we were nine, we were driving home from Costco with our mother when she asked if we were having a happy childhood. She suffered tremendously, we knew, because of the powerlessness. She is not a powerless person. She is a doctor. But she couldn’t diagnose our condition, so she couldn’t heal it. We told her yes, we would look back on our childhood with fondness.
We wonder what will happen if we raise our own children into chubby awkwardness.
So we roll our eyes and concede that we were annoying. That we talked too much. That there really was a lot to taunt. Laughing shows that we are over it.
Nominated for a Pushcart Prize by The Massachusetts Review, Allison’s short fiction has also been published by Joyland, Annalemma, Fractured West, Underground Voices, Full of Crow, The Huffington Post and 322 Review. Her nonfiction has appeared in Bloomberg, GOOD Magazine, Real Simple, Travel + Leisure, Forbes, xoJane and many more. She currently lives in Jersey City, where she’s working on a novel.